Ira talks to comedian Tig Notaro, who recently had a bunch of horrible things happen to her all in the course of 4 months.
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In July, Tig was diagnosed with cancer. A week later she went on stage on Los Angeles and did a now-legendary set about her string of misfortunes.
David Rakoff tells this story, about the invisible processes that can happen inside our bodies...and the visible effects they eventually have. David died three months after this performance, in August 2012.
"Slow to react" is usually an insult. But in this case the things that are slow...are cancer cells.
Do cell phones give people brain tumors? Ira speaks with Christopher Ketcham, who wrote an article on this subject for GQ magazine.
Rebecca was 16 years old when her mother Elizabeth died of cancer. But before she died, she wrote letters to Rebecca, to be given to her on her birthday each year for thirteen years.
Dan Savage made a pledge over a decade ago that he hoped would just vanish. But it somehow returns from oblivion.
Host Ira Glass talks with Dr. Stephen Rosenberg of the National Cancer Institute about a cancer patient of his who spontaneously healed.
Julia Whitty's father's cancer medication cost $47,000 a year if she bought it in the United States. It cost $1,200 a year if she bought it in a foreign country.
How writer (and frequent This American Life contributor) David Sedaris and his family reacted when Sedaris's mother—a lifelong, unrepentant smoker—developed lung cancer. After a lifetime of barbed, funny remarks, no one in the family is prepared to talk about their feelings.
David Rakoff goes in search of the only existing mementos of a year-and-a-half of his life when he nearly died from Hodgkins Disease. The missing relics are his own pre-chemotherapized sperm — which reside somewhere in a Toronto lab.
Wendy Dorr, an assistant producer at Radio Diaries, has this story of what happens to you if you break one of the cardinal rules of a hospital, over and over, for years.
Deb Monroe reports on how she has been mapping her own body through her sense of touch.
Poet Donald Hall reads about his wife Jane Kenyon, who contracted leukemia, went through treatment, and died. His book is also called Without: Poems.
David Sedaris, on his mother's lung cancer.
The day Matthew Goulish saw Brigid.
Ira talks about the adage "Comedy equals tragedy plus time." Usually it's true, he says, though today's show is devoted to someone who decided to go on stage the same week she was experiencing some horrible things — and talk about those things.
Julia talks about her brother Michael's cancer. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, stage four.
In the second half of the show, she talks about her own cancer — cervical cancer that was diagnosed six months after her brother got sick. Julia eventually turned some of these vignettes into a one-woman show called God Said, Ha!, which Quentin Tarantino made into a movie and Julia released as a book.